‘Castles Made of Sand’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Woke up (later than normal) this morning with what can only be described as a sore head. The after effects of drinking a few too many Belikins last night when Rose and I started off the night by going to Legends Burger House to catch the inaugural Blues Wednesday. The place was heaving and the sounds were great.

After a few beers there (who was counting) we headed off to the Roadkill Bar to find the place equally as busy. It was packed with the Jerry Jeff Walker Pickin’ Parties who all appeared to want to take part in the karaoke.

It was a fun evening but I paid the price in the morning and it took me much, much longer to ‘get in to gear’. I did come around eventually and Rose and I set off to see what was going on at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As we’re driving down the road we could see a tipper truck parked up. When we got to the site we could see why. Wooden poles needed to be moved to allow the truck access to tip its load of sand for our castle.


Sam and Martin moving the poles.

They worked quickly and it wasn’t long before the truck was tipping its load.


Preparing for the concrete pour.

Even before the truck had departed Sam and Martin were back at work cutting wood to make the side form boards.


Watch your fingers!

The forms were being assembled in the shade near the bodega ready for moving to near our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize when the guys fixing the boards were ready for them.


How many more do we need?

Once again we could not get inside the house because of the scaffolding but we could see that most of the base form boards had been fitted because the inside of the Ground Floor was so dark. Very little sunlight was getting through.


Look how dark inside the northern side of the house is.


Looking through the clerestory window.


Dark inside of the western (lagoon) side of the house.


Close up of the main bedroom.


Looking into the living/kitchen room and the store room.

Walking around to the southern side of the house we could see that boards were being prepared for fixing for the veranda.


Measuring where to cut.


Let’s get the nails in.

It wasn’t long before another board was ready for fixing for the southern veranda.


Alfredo fixing it in place.

As we completed the final tour of the outside we could see that they were putting the final supports in place for the staircase.


Zapeda in cramped working conditions.

It was obvious that there is still some work to do before the pour for the First Floor can take place but hopefully this can be completed for Saturday. This is still obviously the target because as Rose and I were preparing to leave the tipper truck turned up. This time with a delivery of gravel.


It’s a tight fit.


Got there!

The headline is based on the second track of side two of the ‘Axis, Bold as Love’ album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience which was released in 1967 in the UK and the following year in the US.

‘What Hurts the Most’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize?

Early morning errands in town this morning gave me the excuse (not that I really need an excuse) to have breakfast at Estel’s. Having filled myself with the food and the view I very quickly visited Gekko Graphics to get some printing done (we are not buying a printer until we move in to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize). Then on to the Post Office to mail a cheque ( wonder of wonders, I received a refund (not a large amount but …) from the UK Customs and Excise for an overpayment of personal income tax) and then on to Atlantic Bank to make a withdrawal (I hate those) for upcoming bills we have to pay.

Also stopped off at the BEL (Belize Electricity Limited) office in Pescador Drive to query why the apartment we are renting has been classified as Commercial. Turns out it wasn’t a mistake but that for someone who owns two or more residential properties ( as the owner that we are renting from does) only one of the properties can be categorised as Residential with the rest being Commercial . Both of his properties,however, are charged at the residential tariff. So now you know. It does pay though to check bills wherever you are but this is especially so in Belize.

At around 12.45 pm Rose and I went to Pedro’s Hotel to have lunch before watching Arsenal come back from two nil down to earn a draw. Not the winning result I was hoping for but, obviously, better than losing. The lunch and the company were, as usual, exceptionally good.

With the game over Rose and I headed off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and when we got there were greeted with the news that we had experienced our first accident on the site ( not counting my injury because I am not working on the build). On Monday afternoon, when jumping down from a scaffold, Nicholas had landed on a nail sticking out of a plank of wood. Not good when you are barefooted. He didn’t work yesterday but was back at work today. This time wearing boots! Seriously though, it is great to see him back and OK. Don’t know though, whose injury hurt the most. His or mine?


Nicholas with the boots.

As expected, work was continuing on fixing the form boards and real progress had been made for the veranda on the western (lagoon) side of the house.


All ‘floor’ boards in.


You can see the boards better in this photo.

Progress was also being made on fixing the forms for the veranda on the northern side of the house.


Still a lot to do but it has started.

They had also been working on the forms for the veranda on the eastern (road) side of the house.


Shape of the veranda at the top of the stairs.

We couldn’t get inside the Ground Floor but I did manage to take a few shots from outside.


‘Floor’ forms in place in the store room.


Boards starting to be fixed over the golf cart parking area.

Whilst all this was going on Anhill had the ‘pleasure’ of working in the water tank removing the Ground Floor form boards.


And another board sees the light of day.

Hopefully on Thursday we can get inside to take some photos (aided by the flash).

The headline is based on the 2005 single by Rascal Flatts’ which reached number six in the US Billboard Hot 100 but number one in the US Country Billboard chart.

‘If I Had a Hammer’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

It actually felt a bit like being back at work this morning and -not that I hanker for this kind of feeling on a full-time basis – I quite enjoyed it.

It involved some use of communication skills to try to make use of the return leg of the flights we booked with United Airlines when we moved to Ambergris Caye, Belize last May. We had managed to accumulate enough Mileage Plus rewards to fly Business Class with the return flights ( which we had no immediate plans to make use of) being Economy.

Our plan was ( hopefully still is) to convert the ‘return’ tickets to allow us to fly to Dallas for our ‘home fixtures and fittings’ inspection trip and book ( and pay for obviously) the return flights.

I started off by ‘phoning the United Airlines’ office in Belize City and managed to get a response after a couple of ‘no answer’ attempts. I ran through what I want to do but was dismayed when the chap told me that we can only use the tickets for the booked route i.e.from Belize via Houston to London. No good for us because we don’t want to go back there (well not yet).

I have not given up though because I have completed ( and submitted) the highly restrictive (in the sense that it does not allow you to fully describe your requirement) on-line form. I now wait to see if this works. I somehow think though that we will be buying both the outbound and inbound tickets. Worth the try though.

Anyway, enough of my flirtation with trying to make use of communication skills and on with an update on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As Rose and I were pulling in to our land to park the golf cart we saw a delivery of – yes, you guessed it – rebar.


Will this be enough for the First Floor?

By way of mitigation for mentioning rebar again I have a compensation.


A real couple of birds in love.

As we walked towards our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we knew that work was seriously underway on putting in the forms for the concrete pour for the First Floor. All we could hear was the sound of hammers hitting nails.


Banging a support in place for the western (lagoon) side veranda.

With the form boards being fitted we could more clearly see the shape and size of the veranda.


So much better than trying to visualise what it will look like from the plans.

We could also see that the stairs to the First Floor were starting to take shape.


This time next week we will be walking up them!

Piles of wood were being carried and placed near to our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize.


Pile of wooden supports on the western side.


Alfredo carrying the next support pole for fixing.

The plywood sheets stacked on the eastern (road) side of the house were being moved for fixing as the base for the forms.


And another one.

Just as quickly as they were being stacked they were being moved up to be fixed.


For the western side veranda.


Daniel Camal, our building contractor, making sure that it is hammered into place correctly.


One for the northern side of the house.


Getting it in to position.


Hammering the nails in place.

We couldn’t get in to the Ground Floor to look around because of the scaffolding but we knew from the sound of the hammering that boards for the First Floor were being fitted. With luck we will be able to take a look on our next visit.

For the health and safety conscious here’s a photo showing how they cut a support pole to fit.


We expect to hear the sound of the hammer again tomorrow but if the fine weather continues the pour of concrete for the First Floor should take place on Saturday.

The headline is based on the song by Trini Lopez ( I know that there were earlier and later versions but this is the one that I remember from when I was young) which was released in 1963. It reached number three in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number four in the UK Singles Chart and number one in thirty-six other countries.

‘Our House’ in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Fully rested after my day off – thanks to the Mystery Blogger for filling in for me to produce yesterday’s edition- I am raring to go to report on week thirteen of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

First of all I want to correct an omission from Sunday’s edition. When we visited the build on Saturday we saw the first clear signs of how the clerestory windows will look (OK you have to have a good imagination but …).

We are making good ( well we hope that it proves to be good) use of these windows in the living/dining room area and the bedroom on the First Floor and in one of the bedrooms on the Ground Floor. On Saturday, with the forms in place, we could start to see what these windows will look like.


Clerestory window on the Ground Floor is just below the form work.


A close up view.


And from inside the bedroom.

Rose and I spent the morning on general chores including a trip to the shops to stock up the cupboards and the refrigerator. We also managed to find a little time to start reviewing the lighting plan for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. The plans show this detail but we have the opportunity to finally decide what type of lights, where we want them, how many light switches, where we want them, etc,.These are the next decisions we need to let Daniel Camal, our building contractor, have. We will have this completed for our Friday afternoon meeting with Daniel.

In the afternoon we met with Larry and his wife Sandy to show them our house ( OK it is far from being finished but we are already thinking of it as ‘our house’). Larry ( who has been following the blog) and Sandy intend to build a home here and were keen to have a look at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and to meet with Daniel.


Rose in a deep discussion with Sandy while Larry discusses a potential build with Daniel.

Having given Sandy and Larry a quick tour of the build Rose and I then spent some time making a closer inspection and were pleased to see that the forms had been removed from around the beams that were poured on Saturday.


Beams for the southern veranda.


And a close-up view.


The western (lagoon) side.

The beams were also exposed in other rooms on the Ground Floor.


The store room.


The kitchen/living room area.


The golf cart parking area.

Work was also underway on the staircase to the First Floor.


Internal view.


External view.

They were also starting work on putting the supports in place for the forms for the concrete slab for the First Floor.


Edson making light work of it.

The results of their efforts removing the form boards were there to be seen.


The ramp being put to good use.

The headline is based on the song by Madness which was released in 1982. It reached number five in the UK Singles Chart and number seven in the US Billboard Hot 100. As Michael Caine never said ‘ not a lot of people know that’ Rose’s sister Margaret lives on the opposite side of the street in which Suggs (Graham McPherson), the lead singer of Madness, lives.

Chocolat no it is not a misspell read on ;0)

Mystery blogger here

Mr. John is fed up with the rain. The build stops when it rains, and it is lashing down. We have decided to review our plans for the house and are going to build a castle instead. Why, well we already have a moat so all we need now is a drawbridge



Mmmmm chocolate, mmmmmmm Johnny Depp, dream, zzzzzzzzz.


No this is not a gratuitous picture of Johnny Depp, but if it was hey whats wrong with that. OK what is the connection between chocolate and Johnny Depp (between chocolate and Johnny Depp mmmmmm dream zzzzzzzz)? Oh where was I? Oh yes, the connection is Johnny Depp. Ooh I nearly went again. I must control myself. He was in a film called Chocolat. Yum yum.

A cautionary tale of two……..






So the moral of the story is don’t drink and wear a zipped koozie. Which brings me nicely onto my next story.

Mr. John and myself went to Nashville last year. It was brilliant – home of country music. As I am a huge fan it was particularly exciting for me.

Went to Roberts Western World bar in Nashville, live music and bar food, which I like as it doesn’t interrupt your drinking time. I saw this and thought I must have one. Actually I bought two one for Mr. John and one for myself.


Not a zip in sight. ;0)

Well that’s all from the Mystery Blogger until the next time.


OK now this is a gratuitous picture of Johnny Depp mmmmmmmmmm dream zzzzzzzzzzz

Mr. John will be back tomorrow and don’t quote me on this I think there maybe rebar involved!!!!!!!!

‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Woke up this morning to the sound (again) of rain. Would this put the pouring of the concrete beams for the First Floor of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize at risk ?

I was tempted to get ready quickly and go up to the site and see if work was taking place but then common sense kicked in and I realised that my presence wouldn’t change things. They would be working or not irrespective of me being there. So I had breakfast and settled down to watch Arsenal nervously beat Brighton and Hove Albion to progress to the next round of the FA Cup. Feeling that the day might turn out OK after all I left Rose at home whilst I went to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Even before I got to the site I could hear the sound of the concrete mixer churning away. I love that sound. Great, the rain wasn’t going to stop things today.


Loads of guys feeding the mixer.

The heavy rain of the past few days made the approach to the house a lot more difficult but you wouldn’t think it to see the way that the guys pushed the wheelbarrow up the ramp.


Looking even more difficult in these conditions.


A look of determination.


Manoeuvre through the poles.


And another bucket of concrete poured for the beams.

I counted seventeen guys, including Daniel Camal, our building contractor, working on the site and they were going at a furious pace concentrating on the western (lagoon) side of the house.


Precariously balanced whilst pouring a veranda beam.


Like a trapeze artist.

The food wagon (OK, golf cart) then turned up and they guys very quickly found there places to eat lunch.


A refreshing drink first.


That tastes good!

While the guys ate someone else appeared for lunch.


There must be something to eat here.

And someone just turned up to see what was going on.


Looks like a nice place.

Twenty-five minutes later the guys were back at work and I set off to collect Rose and then return to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. It would be good to let her know that nothing was going to stop us.

Within just over forty minutes (I drive more slowly when Rose is on board) we were there and the guys were still working at a sprinter’s pace and had now moved to the inside beams.


So many bodies there’s hardly room to swing a cat (not that Rose would let me swing a cat).

Daniel was up on the scaffolding making sure that the job was being done properly.


Have they filled every bit?

Oh, meant to mention earlier, but I did learn from the accident a few days ago and dressed appropriately today.


Not the height of fashion but…


And the boots were brilliant in the waterlogged conditions.

Not to be outdone Rose wore her matching ensemble .


Looking stylish as ever.

Satisfied with progress Rose and I left the guys to finish off the pour.

I have great news for you Mystery Blogger fans. I am taking a well earned break and the next edition will be produced and published by the Mystery Blogger. I can’t wait to read it! Bet you can’t either.

The headline is based on the McFadden & Whitehead single released in 1979 which reached number thirteen in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number five in the UK Singles Chart.

‘Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)’ in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Weather this morning although not starting out bright,sunny and hot ( wore a sweat top until around 11 am) was a vast improvement when compared to the previous few days. It looked good for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. An opportunity to claw back some of the time lost to the heavy rain.

Feeling good – and everybody is free here to feel good – I thought I would spend a little time whilst drinking my early morning cup of coffee on the veranda reflecting on the progress of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize versus the forty week schedule as the time lapsed has just edged over the thirty percent mark ( for those with a statistical bent today sees us (excluding public holidays from the calculations) hit the thirty-two point nine percent mark).

We have experienced one or two interruptions. Not surprising really when one considers that the build started on 5 November which was slap bang in the rainy season. So to only lose a couple of days to inclement weather is pretty good going. Hope that I am not tempting providence with this!

We have also changed the design/build specifications for the Ground Floor with the addition of a bedroom en-suite and a move of position for the store room. Oh, and we have also changed the design/build for the ground to Ground Floor stairs and the golf cart ramp.

All in all I estimate that we are around two weeks behind where we should have been. Bloody good under the circumstances and a performance by Daniel Camal, our building contractor, and his team that Rose and I are very pleased with. We are also quietly confident that the ‘lost’ time will be recovered.

Anyway, enough of this period of reflection on my part and back to the present, progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today.

Rose and got to the build at around 3 pm and just as I had finished locking the golf cart the rain started to come down. I could see Anhill and Alfredo in the distance working on a form at the front (eastern) side of the house.


Anhill and Alfredo feel the first drops of rain.

The rain then started to really come down and it came down hard. So hard we didn’t make it to the evolving house but only to the bodega ( I, even though Rose had suggested I take it with me, did not have my raincoat – another case of Rose being right!).

The bodega is nothing special. Somewhere to store the tools and for the guys to hang their clothes and rucksacks but boy did it feel special today.


Shovels ready for action – if only!

We could hear the sound of hammers hitting nails in the distance but then the rain got too much for the guys and they retreated to take cover in the water tank. We made entreaties to them to join us in the bodega but only Anhill and Alfredo took up the invitations. Everyone though was in the dry whilst the rain came pouring down.


Looking eastwards from the doorway of the bodega. Our swamp grows!


Wisely the cement is protected with plastic sheeting.

After around 40 minutes the rain started to ease slightly and the guys started to emerge from the water tank but I am sorry to report that I didn’t get any pictures (I will carry a raincoat at all times now). Soon after we could hear the sounds of hammers at work.


Alfredo looking at the wimps in the bodega sheltering from the rain.


A focused Anhill after his respite in the bodega.

Not being as hardy as the guys ( and because I stupidly did not take a raincoat with me) Rose and I left the site to return home for our 5pm meeting with Daniel which was a good one. The major point for us was to ensure that Daniel knows exactly the kind of ‘look’ we want for the internal stairs.


The look we are aiming for – the stairs, not the wall!

Daniel pleasingly confirmed that he will be able to construct the internal staircase in line with our aspiration. He also provided us with a couple of colour treatments for the wood for our kitchen and bathroom cabinetry.


A bit too light for us.


Darker but not quite there.

Daniel will now provide us with a couple more samples with darker treatment.

Saturday, weather permitting, the concrete beams to support the First Floor will be poured.

The headline is based on the 1991 single by Rozalla which reached number six in the UK Singles Chart and number 37 in the US Billboard Hot 100. Pleased to report ( a bit of name dropping here) that Rose and I used to socialise occasionally with Rozalla and her husband Alan Brydon when we lived in the UK.

‘Let the Sunshine In’ for Ambergris Caye, Belize.

After the heavy rain of the last few days it was much better when I arose this morning at 5 am. No sound of the rain beating down. Just the swoosh of the coconut palms. Exactly the sound I hoped to hear. A good omen you would think for progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today.

My optimism was dampened (sorry for the pun) when at around 9 am the rain started to fall lightly. Would this be enough to prevent work on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize again today? Fortunately the rain did not last long and did not fall too heavily but Rose and I decided to wait until the afternoon to visit the site. Just to give the rain a chance to change its mind!

We decided that we would use the time to prepare for the weekly Friday meeting we have with Daniel Camal, our building contractor, during which we compare progress versus the schedule and confirm our requirements for the next phases of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. With our notes finished we set off for the site.

On arrival at our land the effect of the rain during the last couple of days was immediately evident. Land that had been drying out very nicely over recent weeks now looked like a paddy field.


No using the ramp for access today.


View from the Ground Floor.

These working conditions didn’t deter the guys from getting on with the job though, they just worked around them.


Power cables for the electric saws hoisted above the water.


He found a dry spot to work in.


And so did they.

Inside the house they were trying to make up for lost time by fitting the forms for the beams that will support the First Floor for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.


In the south-western corner of the store room.


Another board ready to be fixed in the north-eastern corner of the store room.


Forms in place on the eastern side of the house to support the veranda.


Team of three focusing on the forms for the northern side of the house.

The rain held off but we do really need the cold front to disappear and for the sunshine to return.

The headline is based on the song by The Fifth Dimension which was released in 1969 and reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number eleven in the UK Singles Chart.

‘Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Got up slightly later than usual this morning at 5.25 am and virtually immediately heard the sound I dread. No, not Rose telling me what to do but the sound of rain. Very heavy rain.

It was raining incessantly- I couldn’t see it because the sun (?) didn’t come up- until around 7.30 am when it started to abate. It was still ‘there’though waiting to return and as it got lighter it was a very grey, cold day. Not looking good for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today. Things got worse when at around 8.30 am the heavens opened up again and the rain came down,did it come down.


Difficult to see where the water ends and the sky begins.

Giving the morning up as a ‘bad job’ I elected to try to cheer myself up by going for breakfast at Estel’s so I put on my rainwear and headed on down there. Seems like nearly everybody ( a bit of exaggeration here) had the same idea as me because the place was packed. So packed I had to sit inside. Thought this was a bummer until I saw people sitting outside getting hit by rain spray.


Even packed inside.


Outside one individual went to extreme lengths to keep dry.

Knew that it was not going to be the most productive day on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize when I picked up on an email from Daniel Camal, our building contractor, informing me that there would be no work this morning because of the rain. If the rained ceased, however, they would work in the afternoon. Much to the consternation and amusement of my fellow diners I immediately started doing the ‘non rain’ dance. Not really, but I felt like it.

Really sorry to report that the rain did not let up. It rained and rained all day. So, as much as Rose and I wanted to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today we didn’t. We chose instead to watch the Arsenal team that shows up too occasionally thump West Ham. We then elected to go and celebrate by having a few Belikins at BC’s.

Pleased that we did because we got to see the famous Coconut Leo suitably attired in his latest rainwear.


Dallas style shoulders.


And doubles up as great safety wear when riding a bike.

It is still raining as I finish this edition but hopefully tomorrow we shall see the sun return and work on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize will recommence.

The headline is based on the 1971 song by The Fortunes which reached number 15 in the US Billboard Hot 100.

Hopefully in tomorrow’s headline I can include a sunnier aspect.

‘Here Comes the Rain Again’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Since starting this blog I have received quite a few comments about how basic, may be even primitive, the building techniques are. Well, if you want to see primitive building techniques in action take five minutes to look at ‘House Building Mayan Style. Compared to this the techniques for our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize look absolutely modern.’

Rose and I spent most of the morning on our computers communicating with family and friends in the UK and taking care of administrative matters. This done we had lunch and prepared for an afternoon visit to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and set off around 2.15 pm. We hadn’t travelled too far when we felt spots of rain so we decided to stop off and pop into the Harmouche Hardware store in Pescador Drive to look at the door knob range – we have to choose these for our new home. There was a reasonable range on display but nothing that really took our fancy.

When we came out of the store we saw that the heavens had opened and it was absolutely bucketing down ( English expression for pouring down). Only attired in our usual T shirt and shorts we elected to shelter under the canopy for a while in the hope that the rain would pass.


Wished we had bags like that with us!


Effective though.

We sheltered for around thirty minutes but there was no let-up and accepting that this was likely to be the case for some considerable time we set off home ( pointless going to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize because even our guys would not be working in conditions like that).

A drive in rain in a windscreen free golf cart is not the most pleasant experience and we arrived home looking like drowned rats. A quick shower, change of clothes and a cup of hot coffee perked us up and we decided to make use of our ‘imprisonment’ by trying to take decisions about our kitchen cabinets.

For some considerable time we have subscribed to Houzz and have found it to provide some great home design ideas and we have filed things that have appealed to us. So it was time to open up the kitchen cabinet file.

We decided some while ago that we will incorporate large drawers and sliding shelves to store pots, pans and dinnerware in as opposed to just having conventional drawers and cabinets. Seems more practical to us – easier to access things.

Here are a selection of the ideas we have to make our final choices from.







Decisions, decisions what will we choose? We have narrowed the choice down though.

The headline is based on the 1984 song by the Eurythmics . It reached number four in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number eight in the UK Singles Chart.

‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I feel duty bound to issue a REBAR WARNING at the beginning of this edition because it does contain photographs of this ‘offensive’ ( well to some readers anyway) material. Warning issued I will now get on with today’s edition to update you on progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

In numerous editions I have spoken about and/or shown photographs of the absence of any health and safety procedures on our building site. Very pleased to say though that we have not witnessed one accident or even something coming close to one . That is until today when the victim was me.

Attired in my customary T shirt, shorts and flip flops I was wandering around looking at the work that was going on when I felt a sudden, sharp pain in the sole of my left foot. I looked down to see that I was standing on a previously used form ( waiting to be used again). I tried to move but felt my foot impaled to the wood. I gingerly tried to move my foot but it was fixed. I then raised my foot to see that I had trodden on a three inch nail. Ouch.

On inspecting the injury Rose and I were extremely relieved that no apparent damage had been done so I quickly doused the injury with water and dried it with the clean cloth that Rose always appears to have in her bag.

As of tomorrow I am wearing the boots that I brought with me from the UK to wear when I go to have a walk around our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.


Made for walking ( and to protect my feet).

Anyway enough of the injury to my person and the measures I am now going to take to avoid a repetition and on with the progress report.

We are now at the stage of the build where the painstaking job of preparing for the floor of the First Floor and accompanying veranda is being carried out. This entails assembling and then fixing into place the rebar frames for the eventual concrete pour.


Rebar being moved.


Bending bars in position.


Easy does it.


Put your back into it!



Hobbling ( any sympathy out there?) around the build I could see that a lot of work had been done in fixing the bases for the forms in place.


View from the eastern (road) side of the house.


Rebar frame in place for the eastern veranda.

And they were working as a team to fit the frames in place on the western (lagoon) side of the house.




Close up and personal.

They had also fitted the base for the forms on the southern side of the house.


Ready for the rebar frames.

Whilst we were there we could see a lorry pull into the site. The first time that a vehicle had actually parked on our land because previously all off-loading has been carried out roadside.


Room to park.

It had delivered wood that will be used to crete a frame around the house for when the concrete is poured for the veranda.


Ready for use.

Pleased with progress it was time for me to ‘retire’ injured in action. I will be back for tomorrow’s edition though. Boots and all!

The headline is based on the 1966 song ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra that reached number one in both the US and the UK.

‘Scaffold’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Although I got up this morning at 5 am I was feeling slightly the worse for wear. Probably caused by only having around four and a half hours of sleep, concentrating on the cards we drew last night on the Poker Run and maybe, just maybe, the copious amount of Belikin I consumed. You would think that at my age I would know better!

The Poker Run, as always, was great fun made even more so by the high number of people that went on this one. A fact strongly confirmed by the winner’s prize ( not me I am sorry to say) of BZ$1,040.

For those of you that read this blog that either live on Ambergris Caye or are visiting soon the next Poker Run is Saturday 2 February. The big question is whether my constitution will recover in time!

Anyway, watched the Chelsea v Arsenal game that started at 7.30 am. A particularly frustrating and annoying game – yes, you guessed it, Arsenal lost. I had some breakfast before the Tottenham v Manchester United game started and did watch the first half but my heart wasn’t in it. I still felt deflated by Arsenal’s defeat so I thought I would pick up on where I left off in yesterday’s edition and update you on what other progress had been made on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Further progress had been made on pouring the lintels with a focus on the southern side of the house and laying the final two courses of ‘blocks.


You can now see the position of the two windows in the store room.

With the lintels in place on the northern side of the house the final courses of ‘blocks had been laid.


Daniel Camal, our building contractor,in the sweat top inspecting the work.

We could also see that a lot of effort and sweat had been expended on erecting the scaffold for the veranda on the western (lagoon) side of the house.


Can’t wait until the veranda is there so we can really savour the view.

Once again wood features very strongly in our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.


Wooden struts hold the scaffold in place.

The base for forms and supporting posts to create the veranda on the eastern side of the house had also been installed.


Ready for the five foot wide veranda.

And for you rebar fans out there work had also started on creating the frames for the concrete beams that will be poured soon to support the First Floor.


Piling up.

Today’s headline is inspired by a challenge by my friend John in the UK (well actually he is currently on an extended holiday in Thailand) to include scaffold in the headline. The Scaffold was a group from England that included Mike McGear the brother of Paul McCartney. Their most famous hit was ‘Lily the Pink’ which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in 1968.

‘If It Don’t Fit’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Another chilly start to the day. But, I am not complaining because I have seen the photographs of what it is like in the UK. Blizzards, blackouts, schools closed, industry adversely affected and predictions that it could cost the economy £11 million. So, my thoughts as I sit on the veranda feeling slightly cold in shorts and ‘T’ shirt, are with my family and friends in the UK.

Had breakfast whilst ‘overdosing’ on the choice of Premiership games to watch on TV. I chose the Liverpool v Norwich game ( good choice because there were five goals) but switched channels throughout to keep in touch with the Manchester City v Fulham and Newcastle v Reading games. Enough to whet my appetite for the Chelsea v Arsenal game that kicks off at 6.30 am tomorrow morning. A curtailed time on the veranda for me tomorrow.

Having had my fix of football it was time for Rose ( she spent the morning making jewellery) and I to head off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As we approached our land we heard the exceedingly welcome sound of the concrete mixer churning away. It’s a good sound for us because when it’s being used there are normally tangible results – we can see the concrete and the shapes that it is forming.

The guys were using it to lay more of the concrete blocks. The focus was on the wall between the second bedroom and en-suite bathroom.


Edson passes the bucket of concrete up.


The concrete gets poured ( don’t know his name yet, he’s a fairly new member of the team).

Zepeda was controlling what jobs had to be tackled next.


Studying the plans.

A lot of focus was being directed to installing the form boards in the corridor that will run between the two bedrooms.


Nicholas making the form board.


Does it fit?


Yep, let’s get the nails in.


It’s in.

They then set about the second length which took some adjustment to make it fit.


So how much have we got to cut off?


That’ll do.


Time to bang the pole into position to support it.

There’s more progress to report on but that will be covered in the next edition because Rose and I are going on the first Poker Run of 2013 and I may be ‘tired and emotional’ when I get home!

The headline is based on the first track on the second album by B*Witched (an Irish all girl group) entitled Awake and Breathe which was released in 1999. The album reached number five in the UK Albums Chart and number ninety-one in the US Billboard 200.

‘Knock on Wood’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

It was quite chilly on the veranda this morning when I took my early (around 4.30 am) coffee. We started to feel the drop in temperature yesterday evening when a cold front moved in and it was still there this morning. Actually had to put a ‘T’ shirt on and probably could have put a sweat top on too like many of the people taking their early morning walk. It got colder as the day progressed but compared to where we come from (UK), especially at the moment, it is still lovely and warm.

On the drive up north to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize in the afternoon we could really feel the chill factor in the wind, especially with no windshield on our golf cart, and I regretted not putting on the sweat top that Rose recommended. When will I learn that – as she tells me – she is always right ?

As we approached the site there was no trace of the sound of a concrete mixer, just the sound of hammers hitting nails. After parking the ‘cart and walking towards our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we could see why. The Ground Floor golf cart parking area looked like a forest. A bit of literary license but there were a lot of horizontal wooden poles in sight. Poles that will support the form boards for the concrete beams that will be first stage of the First Floor.


The sight before us, a maze of wooden poles.

After walking up the stairs – what a pleasure it is to access the Ground Floor this way as opposed to the wooden ramp – we could see how the poles were held in place.


Wooden acrows in place.

Each acrow is cut specifically for the requirement and some of the poles and plywood (and a fair few nails as well) will have been used three or four times already.


Nothing elaborate but they are effective.

Similar activity was taking place across the whole floor and it was difficult, if not nigh on impossible, for us to access the rooms without interrupting the work. So we didn’t try. Time is money after all.

Instead we concentrated our inspection on the exterior of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and when we did we saw that more of the window lintels had been poured.


All lintels in place on the western (lagoon) side of the house.


Also done on the northern side of the house.

Scaffolding and acrows were being fixed to support the form boards for the concrete pour that will create the veranda on the western (lagoon) side of the house.


It continues to amaze me how the guys put themselves into working positions that would not be allowed – because of Health and Safety rules- in the UK.


Precariously balanced whilst fixing the rebar into place.


How about this for one of the supports for a form board.


And what about the made-on-site ladder.

Similar activity was taking place on the eastern (roadside) side of the house to put the form boards in place for the veranda (this one will have a depth of five feet).


Working in between the bedroom, the pump room and the staircase.

So essentially a day for the carpentry skills of the guys.

The headline is based on the song co-written and initially sung by Eddie Floyd but which gained its greatest success when recorded and released as a single in 1979 by Amii Stewart. It reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six in the UK Singles Chart.

The ‘A’ Team in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

One of the things I have found about writing a blog is that you start to take a keen interest in other people’s blogs about the same area that you live in. Whether consciously or subconsciously you start to consider the ‘dos’ and don’ts for your own blog. You start to read forums more. When I was in the UK I would never have considered joining a forum let alone make contributions to them. Now I read them avidly and contribute when I feel I have something to offer.

Writing a blog can also reawaken any competitiveness that may be part of your make-up. When I worked for a living I think I was fairly competitive. I always stove to ‘beat’ the other guy in a negotiation for example. It was a competition of sorts. Always tried to produce the best I could. Blogging provides the stimulus for similar traits to show themselves.

You start to gauge the quality/appeal of an edition by how many views or visits it received. The stats will either enthuse or deflate you ( not to suicidal levels but …). You get a buzz when you get comments (feedback) from those that take the time and have the interest to follow your blog.

Anyway, enough of the innermost thoughts of a newbie blogger and now on to further developments on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Well the first thing to do is complete the introduction to the core (‘A’) team that is building our home for us:




Alfredo ( in the foreground carrying the concrete block)



And to finish off here is Daniel Camal, our building contractor. They are all important to the success of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize but none more so than him.


Daniel is in the blue sweat top.

Introductions to the team done I will now give you an update on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

When we got the the land we saw that the forms had been removed from above the sliding windows in the Ground Floor master bedroom.


A nice sized window.

A board had been fixed to show where the First Floor lagoon side veranda will extend to ( the veranda will run the length of the house and have a depth of ten feet).


We should be able to get a table and four chairs up there.

Form boards were being fixed in place in the second of the en-suite bedrooms.


Not the best view from a window but I have had worse.

They were also fixing the forms for the beams that will be poured from north to south and east to west to support the First Floor.


East to west board in place in the kitchen/living room area.

Intrigued to know what the views will be like from the First Floor in our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize I asked Nicholas to take some photos for me ( he was working on the top course of bricks on the external wall of the master bedroom ( north-west side of the house).


View to the south


View to the north.


View to the west.


View to the east, the Caribbean.

Oh, moving away from the build I want to mention that Rose and I bought some raffle tickets for one of the elements of a fund raising drive that is being organised to generate money to buy uniforms for the Isla Bonita Marching Band. The major element of the drive is the event that will take place between noon and 5 pm on Sunday 10th February at Wayo’s Beachside Beernet. A fun filled afternoon is guaranteed with a hog roast, Chinese Auction, a raffle AND an appearance by the Band. An event for a very worthy cause that cannot be missed.

The headline is based on the 2011 song by Ed Sheeran which reached number three in the UK Singles Chart and number sixteen in the US Billboard Hot 100. Oh, and also the TV series starring George Peppard and the film starring Liam Neeson.

Everyday living on an Island

Everyday living on an Island

Mystery blogger here. Apologies for not turning up last week but…..

I dropped off Mr. John at the Water Taxi to catch the 8:00 to Belize City for another dental appointment. I think he is probably having his teeth filed into points so he doesn’t have to think up a Halloween costume for next year (Dracula). Any hoo back to the subject “Everyday living on an Island”.

When I lived in Blighty, if I wanted anything it was a click on the computer (internet shopping, eBay) I love eBay, phone call, or a short ride on the tube. But on an island you have to wait and not being the most patient of persons it very FRUSTRATINNNNNGG. But in general it is excellent living on an island. People here are very friendly, going about my business of shopping, paying bills, you don’t get very far without hellos and how are you from people you know.

Deciding on footwear is not difficult it is just a matter of matching a colour with your outfit. These are just a small selection of flip-flops that I have.


Sorry about the messy white and blue ones but it is quite dusty over here


Now these flip flops have everything pink and gems.


As you can see from the picture Marley has grown quite a lot, so we are going to plant him on our land with his family. We are also cultivating other plants for planting when our house is built.


Our build is coming on leaps and bounds, the stairs and ramp have been poured I can walk up the stairs instead of the makeshift ramp which moves when you walk on it. The makeshift ramp is on the right it may not look high from here but it is and when you get to the top you turn left and it wobbles and there are gaps.

For dinner tonight I am making yes you guessed it’s a curry but a prawn one. Not sure what state Mr. John’s gnashers will be tonight.

I will be going up to the build today to take my usual photos, but I will leave Mr. John to put them in his blog Thursday. Picking up Mr. John up from the Water Taxi later not sure what time until he phones me, then depending on what time that is I will take Mr. John up to the build to show him the progress.

Our next door neighbours who we have got to know quite well and have been on the island for seven years are leaving and we will be sad to see them go. They are going to live in Trinidad. Matt Joe and Naomi. Matt has already left and Joe and Naomi leave on Friday and will join him at the weekend. A great adventure for all of them. Joe Matt and Naomi we will miss you a lot. Xx

Mystery blogger over and out. xxxx

‘Smooth Operator’

Before updating you on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize I thought I would fill (excuse the pun) you in on my visit to the dentist on Tuesday.

For first time readers I have been visiting Doctor Pedro Habet at the Dental Center in Mercy Lane, Belize City for an extensive course of treatment.


The Dental Center.


Contact information in case you ever need it!

On this visit I had a nerve removed from a lower left root canal and a further ( the third attempt) at removing a nerve in an upper right root canal. Oh, and I also had a post fitted for one of the porcelain crowns that will be fitted when I go in April for the second stage of dental implant work.

I have visited Doctor Pedro Habet around nine times since starting the treatment last October and have found him to be a cool practitioner. A smooth operator you could say.

He has a well appointed surgery, really good staff and he really appears to know , and care about, his work.



Lie back and enjoy it!

Went down to the Police Station this morning to find out if our Criminal Record reports had been processed ( need these to apply for entry into the Qualified Retirement Programme) and fortunately P.C Cho was on duty. He gave me the good news that the reports have been produced. He then gave me the bad news that they are in Belmopan. He hopes to go there this weekend. So, with luck, we could have them this time next week. Not holding my breath though.

When I got back I went and lazed at the end of the dock, in front of where we are renting,finishing off Smiley’s People (by John le Carré) and then starting Run Rabbit (by John Updike). Basically just ‘chilling out’ – its tough living on Ambergris Caye!

Went to the apartment to watch Arsenal play Swansea in the 3rd Round FA Cup replay only to find that it was not on TV. They had amazingly chosen the Chelsea and Manchester United games for TV coverage! Didn’t matter too much though because Arsenal won and are through to the next round.

Needing to have our spirits uplifted Rose and I headed off (stopping on the way to get some soft drinks for the guys) to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize because no matter what our moods are like they always perk up on the way there wondering what will have changed. And today was no different.

As we approached our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we could see that the concrete window lintels had been poured.


Where the windows will be in the store room.

And in the kitchen/living room area of the self-contained apartment.


Second window is obscured by the column.

Form boards had been installed to create the lintel for the sliding doors in the master bedroom.


What about the wooden acrows.

Many more concrete blocks had been laid and most of the walls are now at the required height of ten feet.


Dividing wall between the kitchen/living room area and the store room.

They were also starting to put the steel in place to support the First Floor lagoon facing veranda.


Projecting steel (rebar for the devotees).

And now to complete the line up of the core (the ‘A’) team working on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize










The final members of the team will feature in Friday’s edition.

The headline is based on the song by Sade released in 1984. It made number nineteen in the UK Singles Chart that year and in the following year reached number five in the US Billboard Hot 100. The song, by the way, was co-written by Ray St. John who I used to play Sunday morning football with.

‘Concrete and Steel’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

First of all sincere apologies for the technical problems that prevented the inclusion of photos in yesterday’s edition. Pleased to ‘say’ that normal service resumes today. Hopefully the techie gremlins will not return.

Spent much of the morning catching up with news (especially the atrocious weather conditions) from the UK via my subscription to The Times, researching on the Internet for fittings (door handles and lights) for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and taking the golf cart for its service ( with the daily/bi-daily trips to the site I wanted to make sure that it is OK for oil and that the brakes are in good working order).Given the state of the roads north of the bridge I also asked them to take a look at the suspension. All in all a rather leisurely morning.

In between I managed to squeeze in ( prior to taking the cart in for it’s service) a breakfast at Estel’s ( should get a free one for all of the plugs I am giving).

Time flew by and in what seemed like no time at all it was time for lunch and given the earlier hearty breakfast I had just a couple of sandwiches and a cup of coffee. Fully fed it was time to head off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

No change as we drew close. The sound of the concrete mixer greeted us and as we walked towards the house we could see some of the guys in the distance.


Our embryonic house.

As we got closer we could see that form boards had been fixed for the next stage of the stairs and the steel rebar was being tied into place.


Ground Floor landing of the staircase.

A swift turn and we were confronted by the sight of the Ground Floor self-contained apartment’s kitchen/living room area’s southern full at it’s full height of twelve courses of blocks plus the beam.


Doesn’t it look high.

Concrete blocks were being laid on the eastern side of the kitchen in the self-contained apartment.


Can you give me a hand please.

The concrete blocks were also being laid for the northern external wall of the larger of the two en-suite bedrooms.


Don’t think he wanted his photo taken!

The framework for the double doors of the store room was being put together and it is here that you see recycling in action. Previously used boards and nails are used again and again.


Let’s get the nails out.


Board in place.


Is it level?


Framework for the double doors for the store room goes in.

The core team (the ‘A’ team) on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize have been working very hard and I thought it about time that I ‘introduce’ them to you. And I will do so in the next couple of editions. Starting today we have:


‘Sam’ (Manuel)




Eduardo to the left and Eric on the right.

The rest of the guys in future editions .

So, loads of concrete and steel going in today . Oh, and some wood.

I am off tomorrow for another visit to see Doctor Pedro Habet for more work on my teeth and in my absence Wednesday’s edition will be produced and published – as long as there is not another ‘no show’- by the Mystery Blogger.

Today’s headline is based on track number one of ZZ Top’s 1990 album Recycler. ‘Concrete and Steel’ reached number one in the Mainstream Rock Tracks’ chart.

‘Reflections’ in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Yesterday saw the end of the tenth week since our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize began. With twenty-five percent of the project time lapsed Rose and I spent time today reflecting on the experience so far.

We have found it exciting, exhilarating on occasions, thought provoking and sometimes it is all that we think and talk about. But, and it is. BIG, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

There is still, obviously, a long way to go but we have come a long way and it was my intention with today’s edition to take you through a pictorial journey from the start of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize to where we are now . Well that was the intention until the computer gremlins went to work. I can view the photographs I intended to include but try as I may I have been unable to include them in this edition.

So, as was sometimes the case when I worked for national newspapers in the UK, I apologise for an edition that is less than it was intended to be . Normal service WILL be resumed tomorrow.

Not that it counts for much given the absence of photos but today’s headline is based on the 1967 single by Diana Ross & the Supremes. It reached number two in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number five in the UK.

‘Moving on Up’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Since moving to Ambergris Caye, Belize I have rediscovered looking forward to the weekend. When I was working the weekend was something to look forward to. An opportunity to ‘recharge the batteries’ after a long week at work ( I used to work long hours – don’t know why now, but I did). With retirement every day became somewhat like the weekend but with the TV coverage here for the English Premiership ( football (soccer) ) Saturday and Sunday are days to look forward to.

Started the day well by watching Spurs drop two points when held to a draw by Queens Park Rangers, followed by a draw between Norwich and Newcastle United which was rounded off seeing West Ham United lose three nil to Sunderland. A full morning ( the Spurs game started at 6.45 am) on the sofa watching football and Sunday I have Manchester United v Liverpool and Arsenal v Manchester City to look forward to.

Because of the full football programme Rose I and didn’t set off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize until the afternoon which was good because it allowed the guys to make some further progress since our visit on Friday.

No surprise on parking the golf cart to hear the sound of the concrete mixer in action. We expected this because we knew that there were further columns to pour . What we didn’t expect though was to see that concrete was being poured to create the golf cart ramp. And by the time we arrived most of the concrete for it had been poured.


We got there in time though to see it finished off.


Filling in the holes.


The final corner.


Levelling off the concrete with a feather edge.

We are really pleased with the way the ramp has turned out . Plenty big enough for two golf carts ( we are only going to have one though) to use at the same time even after we have used some of the intended space for the new set of stairs from ground level to the Ground Floor.

And what about the stairs? Well, the form boards had been removed and the stairs were there to be used.


Rose imagining what it will be like to enter the house!

They had done more than lay the ramp though. The form boards had been removed from the columns poured on Friday.


Ready to support the First Floor.

Concrete was also being poured to fill the cavities in the concrete blocks that had been laid in the south-west corner of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.


It still amazes me how much concrete is used to fill the cavities.

Little doubt that we are moving up to be ready for the First Floor. Really looking forward to next week.

The headline is based on the song by M People which was released in 1993 and reached number two in the UK Singles Chart.

‘Money for Nothing’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Spent the early part of this morning arranging an exchange of sterling to US dollars to fund the next stages of our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Before commencing the build project Rose and I considered a number of ways in which to fund it. Leave the money in our UK bank account and exchange currency on a stage by stage basis, open a US dollar account with our UK bank and exchange sterling for the total build cost and draw on it on a stage by stage basis,transfer money to our Atlantic International Limited Bank account and draw down on that, and a whole host of other approaches to the funding requirement.

In the end – after much deliberation- we elected to make use of FC Exchange which s a UK based specialist currency broker. The appeal for us being that we exchange reasonably sizeable amounts of sterling at the market rate at the time of exchange ( this way we have certainty of the rate which we much prefer to taking a gamble on whenever a stage payment is due). The rates offered are generally higher than we could get at a bank and there are NO wire transfer fees. It works for us but may not appeal to everyone.

After taking care of the money it was time for Rose and I to review the plans for the Ground and First Floors to see if there are any changes we want to make or questions we would like to ask Daniel Camal,our building contractor,at the meeting we were having with him at 4 pm.


The epitome of concentration. Or was it just a pose?

We spent around an hour reviewing the two floor plans looking at each floor on a room by room basis and took notes as we went long. With the review finished we headed off to see how things were going at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize

We got there around 1.15 pm and saw straight away that progress had been made on the ramp and the new set of stairs from the ground to the Ground Floor that we changed the plans to accommodate.



The pour of concrete for the new staircase begins.

We also saw that they were pouring the columns that will support the ceiling/floor of the Ground Floor/First Floor.


Bucket up on the scaffolding.



A little bit of vibration and ready for the next bucket load.


Next bucket load about to be poured.

While all this was going on work was taking place on constructing the form boards for the next column to be poured.


Many hands make light work!

The form boards installed for the pouring to create the beams had been removed before we arrived.


Beam exposed in the wall separating the kitchen/living room from the bedroom.

The plumber/electrician had also been busy extending the pipes.


Haven’t a clue what they are for. Looks like an octopus to me.

While Rose and I were wandering around ( keeping out of the way of the guys of course) the pour for the new stairs continued.


And another wheelbarrow load.

The stairs very quickly started to take shape.


Starting to fill up.

With wheelbarrow loads of concrete arriving within minutes of each other it wasn’t long before the pour was finished.


The finished article is exactly as we hoped it would look.

With the pour of the stairs completed Daniel set about making sure that the pour for the columns had been carried out correctly.


Daniel precariously balanced to carry out his inspection.

In the meantime the guys had finished work on the forms for the next column.


Up she goes.


Nearly there.


It’s there.

Oh, forgot to mention that they had also laid four courses of ‘blocks above the beam for the external wall of the store room.


It’s now starting to look very tall and there are still two more courses and the ceiling/floor to be laid. If you look closely you can just see Rose’s head peaking through the kitchen window.

Very satisfied with progress we left our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize to prepare for our meeting with Daniel, which, by the way, was very successful. He has now asked us to focus on the lighting for the First Floor to determine exactly what we want.

The headline is based on the 1985 single , from the ‘Brothers in Arms’ album, by Dire Straits. The song hit number in the US and number four in the UK.

‘Stairway to Heaven’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

It was that time of the month again today- time to renew our Visas. Pleased to say that this time we set a new record for processing time. Excluding the drive to the Immigration Department we were ‘done and dusted’ in eight minutes.

With such a start to the day we thought we were in for a wonderful day but then the sky got very grey and then very dark . Within minutes the heavens opened up and there was a swirling rain. It didn’t last long though but the sun didn’t really emerge in full force.

We had planned to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize but decided that it could wait until the rain stopped or at least subsided. So we moved to plan B which was to review the architect’s plan to do our best to avoid a repetition of the ground level stair access ( see yesterday’s edition ‘Cause & Effect’) problem.

We focused our attention on the Ground and First Floors and identified a number of small changes we want to make e.g. not having a cabinet between the oven and the pantry but use the space to increase the width of the pantry, providing plumbing for a dryer in the utility room but fit a cabinet in the space ( we have never been avid users of dryers but you never know…),etc. With our list drawn up we are ready for the first of the formal weekly meetings that we have asked Daniel Camal, our building contractor, to have with us. The inaugural meeting takes place at 4pm on Friday at our apartment.

Our session done poring ( not pouring) over the plans we drove to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize to see what work had been done. We were hopeful that work had started on removing our Mayan Ruins ( the description the guys gave) looking stairs.


The ‘Mayan Ruin stairs’

When we arrived we immediately walked around the eastern (roadside ) side of the house and were thrilled (OK maybe not thrilled but definitely happy) to see that the shape of the stairs had changed materially.


Goodbye Mayan, hello modern!

Work was also taking place on carrying out the preparatory work for the stairs that will ‘sit’ alongside the ramp.


Working out where they will go.


Putting the form board in place.


It is not going to move.

Additional sand had been put in the ramp area to provide the necessary base for the concrete.


Daniel with the shovel with Rose looking on in awe.

Whilst work on the stairs was going on the rest of the guys were putting the final form boards in place on the northern side of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize




Nearly there.

For the rebar addicts ( there must be a few of you surely) two of the guys were busy carrying the nearly forty foot lengths required for the frames that will strengthen the columns that will support the Ground Floor ceiling/First Floor.


Now that is what you call rebar!


And the rebar frames are going up.

Good progress again today but the most pleasing thing for us was the work on our stairway to heaven.


Now isn’t this better.

The headline is based upon the Led Zeppelin song which was track number four on the group’s forth album( released in 1971) which is often referred to as Led Zeppelin IV.

‘Cause & Effect’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Regular readers of this blog, the reason for its being is to record our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize, will recall from earlier editions, I am sure, that the foundations for our home – because of the low lying nature of our land in Tres Cocos- had to be built much higher than the plans stipulated.

One consequence was that the golf cart ramp had to be extended so that the gradient was not as steep. Well, when Rose and I visited the site yesterday evening, after I returned from the dentist, we noticed another couple of unwanted effects caused by the increased height of the foundations.

At it’s planned height it was possible to step up to the Ground Floor from ground level. This just isn’t possible now given the increased height of the foundations.


You would need a trampoline from ground level or mountain climbing boots to access the Ground Floor via the ramp.

Rose and I discussed the problem and decided that the solution is to allocate 2 foot nine inches of the ramp space for stairs. We considered other possible solutions but we thought that this one would be the easiest and least costly to implement.

When we got to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize this morning we discussed the feasibility of it with Anhill and he agreed with our thinking. We also discussed the way that the stairs from the ground level to the Ground Floor would look if the concrete is poured into the forms as they are currently made up. Far too wide with the northern section serving no useful purpose ( it would have done had the height of the foundations not been increased).

We were still discussing the effects caused by the elevated height of the foundations when Daniel Camal, our building contractor, arrived and he joined the discussion and within a few minutes we agreed upon the solutions.


The forms to the left of the entrance ( left-hand wall) to the Ground Floor will now be removed.

As to the creation of stairs within the ramp area, they will have a width of thirty-three inches, a depth of twenty inches and the risers will be seven inches but these will not start until forty inches into the ramp.


The stairs will be created along the right-hand side of the ramp.

With the problems resolved Rose and I went home for a quick lunch.

I returned to the site in the afternoon to see the concrete being poured for the eight inch beams that will ‘sit’ on top of the first six courses of concrete blocks ( further six courses of ‘blocks will be laid on top of the beams).


Pouring the concrete for the beam for the northern wall of the store room.


Edson with the vibrator, ably assisted by Daniel.


They then got to work with the trowel to level off the concrete.


How it looks when finished.

I took the opportunity to see what the additional bathroom size looks like now that the first six courses of ‘blocks have been laid.


That’s big enough! The corridor to the left of the bathroom leads past the other bedroom into the kitchen/living room area.

For those of you that dread the word rebar close your eyes. It is a boring subject I know but, like it or not, rebar is an essential element of our build and they were getting ready for the next big use of it.


Testing the height of the rebar for the columns to support the ceiling of the Ground Floor/ floor of the First Floor.


Stacking the rebar on the northern side of the house ready for use.

OK, you can open your eyes now.

The headline is based on the self-titled first album by Cause & Effect which was released in 1990.

‘She’s Gone’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

For those of you that have come here expecting to read what the Mystery Blogger has to say I have bad news for you. She inexplicably is – as we say in England – a ‘no show’. Gone AWOL! So, you are stuck with me today.

Writing this after virtually a full day at the dentist ( well it seemed like a full day). Got the 8 am Caye Caulker Water Taxi to Belize City and on arrival grabbed a taxi to the dentist (BZ$8 including a tip). My appointment was for 10 am but, as has become customary ( the only gripe I have about the very good dentist Doctor Pedro Habet) I didn’t get into the surgery until 10.40 am.

Once in there it was straight into the chair, a couple of injections, remove the temporary filling and then set about removing one of the nerves in the root canal that he was unable to extract last week. Success achieved this time around. So he then prepared the two teeth that have had root canal work for the crowns that are going to be fitted. That done I went for lunch which proved not to be the easiest thing given that one side of my mouth was still numb.

Back at 1.30 pm for an attempt on the second of the nerves that he was unable to remove last week. No success this time either so he will try again next week. He did though remove the nerve for the other root canal that required this treatment. A 66% success rate. Not perfect but not bad. Hopefully next week the difficult nerve will succumb.

Oh, I should have mentioned earlier that I saw an arresting ( apologies for the pun) sight in the Reception before going in for the dental work . A prisoner – in handcuffs and full prison garb- was escorted by a prison guard for dental treatment. It could only happen in Belize.


Apologies for the quality ( or lack of it) of the photo but I had to take it surreptitiously.

Left the dentist at 3.15 pm and managed to get a taxi quickly which enabled me to catch the 3.30 pm Water Ferry to Ambergris Caye.

Rose was waiting for me and we headed straight away to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize so that I could see what work had taken place.

Pleased to report that the six courses of concrete blocks for the store room ( in its new position) had been laid and the forms were installed ready for the pouring of the beam.


Not as big as the store room we originally planned but big enough.

They had also been working on installing the pipes for the bathroom for the additional en-suite bedroom ( read previous editions for the full story).


The pipe to the right is for the shower, the one in the middle for the toilet and the pipes to the left for the sink.

The six courses of ‘blocks for the kitchen/living room had also been laid and the form boards fitted in readiness for the pour for the concrete beam.


Concrete blocks stacked ready for the next six courses after the beam has been poured.


Space left for the window.

They had also made good progress on the stairs from ground level to the Ground Floor.


Ground level view.


View from the Ground Floor.

And some progress had been made on the ramp.


Starting to take shape.

Today’s headline is inspired by the absence of the Mystery Blogger and the song by the same name by Hall & Oates . Initially released as a single in 1974 it was only mildly successful. It was released again in 1976 after editing and remixing and this time reached number 7 in the US Billboard Hot 100 .

‘Wall to Wall’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

After eating breakfast this morning I made a call to the UK to try to see if there was a way for me to remotely close two building society accounts that were held in the joint names of my late Dad and myself.

I didn’t close the accounts before leaving England because I assumed ( never assume) that they had been closed during the probate process. They hadn’t because one of the account holders – me – was still alive. Anyway, the long and the short of it is that the accounts can only be closed with a personal visit to one of the building society’s branches. Not very helpful because they are all in the UK. So, this job will have to wait until Rose and I decide that we would like to go back for a visit . No inclination to do so yet awhile though.

Next on the agenda was to ‘hit’ the shops for one or two much needed provisions and pay the cable and Internet bills. An hour later we were back home having lunch and getting ready to visit our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize

We got there around 1.45 pm to see a truck load of cement being unloaded.



Where does it all go!

As we approached the build we could see that progress had been made on building the staircase from ground level to the Ground Floor.


Form boards in place for the staircase on the external walls.


Staircase starting to take shape.


Form board marked with the shape of the stairs.

When we got to the Ground Floor we could see that the protecting covering of plywood over the water tank ( where the manhole cover will eventually be located) had been removed and that the form boards that had been fixed for the concrete pour to create the ceiling/floor were being removed.


Nicholas bringing a board to the surface.


Nicholas emerging for some fresh air.


Collating the wood before bringing it up.


Anhill taking time out to pose for a photograph.

A walk around the Ground Floor revealed that work on the changes we had requested be made to accommodate the addition of an en-suite bedroom and new location for the store room were in the final stages of being completed.


The aperture for the window in the ‘old’ store room ( now the additional bedroom) had been blocked in

Blocks were being cut in the additional bathroom to accommodate pipe work.


Nearly there.

Work was underway laying concrete blocks for the external wall of the store room in its new location.


Edson using the plumb line to make sure that the blocks are level.


Nicholas troweling in the cement ready for the next course of ‘blocks.

Wherever Rose and I walked on the Ground Floor of our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize there were walls . Really exciting to see.

The headline is based on the song ‘Wall to Wall’ by Chris Brown from his 2007 album ‘Exclusive’.

By the way, I have another dental appointment in Belize City. Bad news for me but good news for you. Why? Because the Mystery Blogger will make a return appearance to publish Wednesday’s edition. Makes going to the dentist well worthwhile !

‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

An element of the contract we have with Daniel Camal, our building contractor, for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize is that he clears the land that we have in Fire Coral Street of the trees, scrub and general rubbish that has grown and been dumped on it.

Some of the trees have grown to over twenty feet and the coverage can only be described as dense – a sharp contrast to how it looked when we started buying the lots back in 2004 ( see the first edition of this blog entitled ‘A bit about us’).


Photo taken from across the canal. Our lots ‘fall’ between the two buildings.



Virtually a jungle!

When we first arrived on the island at the end of May last year we were dismayed to see that the road facing side of our lots was covered in cars and car parts. This has been remedied, however, following a conversation that Rose had ( so much better coming from a woman) with the motor mechanic who operates his business on the opposite side of the street. The lots though still look a mess.


View from the roadside. Our lots are between the fence and fifty feet in front of the terracotta coloured building in the distance.

When the lots are clear we will ask Daniel to erect an inexpensive fence along the roadside and I will visit occasionally to keep the foliage under control.

When we purchased the lots it had been our intention to one day build our home there but now we shall wait until the economy improves and sell the land. Either as individual 50 feet by 100 feet parcels or, hopefully, as a single piece.

With no work on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today Rose and I spent a couple of hours on the Internet trying to find showers trims ( including valves) that we like for the bathrooms on the Ground and First Floors. The reason for this being that the valves need to be installed into the walls, with the trims being fitted later.

We looked first at what Benny’s ( the home centre on the Northern Highway) has to offer. Not seeing a great deal of choice we turned our attention to stores based in the States. After looking for what seemed an age we made a choice. We will let Daniel know what we have chosen and he will place an order and arrange shipping.


The shower trim ( valve included!) that we have chosen.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of week ten of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and by the end of the week – if it is to remain on schedule- the Ground Floor walls, columns and beams and the stairway from ground level to ground slab need to be completed. Let’s hope there is no rain!

The headline ( I know the grammar is atrocious) is based on the 1965 single by the Small Faces which reached number 14 in the UK Singles Chart.

‘Changes’ in Ambergris Caye,Belize

Around 10 last night I received an email from Daniel Camal, our building contractor, which was accompanied by the detailed costing we had requested for the building of an additional en-suite bedroom and a repositioning of the store room on the Ground Floor of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. We decided that it was too late in the day to review the breakdown of costs and would,instead, tackle this the next morning.

When I got up this morning I opened the attachment and carried out a cursory check to make sure that the individual material type costs are the same as those that we received for the initial proposal for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. They were. That done I went for breakfast at Estel’s ( for me the BEST way to start the day).

When I got back home Rose and I went through the cost proposal checking the component costs against the architect’s plans and the changes we wanted to make . We identified that Daniel had included one more window (three) for the store room than we want. Whilst reviewing the architect’s plans we also agreed where we want the windows and doors to be for the additional en-suite bedroom and store room to be . That done I ‘phoned Daniel and told him that we want to incorporate the changes to the plan and asked to meet with him.

Daniel arrived at our apartment at around 1.30 pm and we spent around 40 minutes agreeing the additional cost and the window/door positions. We then travelled independently to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

When we got there we could see that work on laying the concrete blocks had been completed for some of the walls and forms were in place for the eight inch intermediate concrete beam that will be poured on top of the first six courses of ‘blocks before the next six courses of blocks are laid to complete the walls for the Ground Floor ( such intermediate beams feature in the walls for the next two floors to provide added strength to the walls).


Form in situ for the intermediate beam.

They had also started to pour concrete for the staircase from ground level to the Ground Floor.


Staircase starts to take shape.

Walls had been marked to identify where the various fixtures are to be fitted.


Where the shower will be in the lagoon ( western ) side en-suite bathroom).


Electric boxes installed for the lagoon side bedroom.

Work had also progressed well on the top of the staircase at Ground Floor level.


Nearly complete.

Whilst we were there they started on the wall that will divide the kitchen/living room and the new location for the store room.


Nicholas making sure that the course of ‘blocks is level.


Second course of ‘blocks completed.

They also started work on the changes we had agreed with Daniel.


Martin filling the aperture where the window would have been for the old store room placement.


Removing the ‘blocks for the window for the additional bedroom.

It was good to see the changes we had agreed upon earlier being incorporated in just a matter of hours.

The headline is inspired by the January 1972 single by David Bowie. Although it never made the Top 40 it is one of his best-known songs.

‘We Can Work It Out’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Forgot to mention in yesterday’s edition that the potential remodelling of the Ground Floor to incorporate an additional en-suite and, as a consequence, repositioning of the store room is not the only change.

Because the foundations for the house are higher than the architect’s plans specified ( the land is low lying) the specifications for the golf cart ramp have had to be amended. Had the plan been rigidly adhered to the gradient would have been too steep for the golf cart to ‘climb’ so the length of the slope is being extended.


Poles in place to define the extension.

We I got to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today there was a lorry delivering a further supply of concrete blocks – we ran out of them yesterday afternoon.


Unloading the 300 concrete block consignment.

When approaching the ramp I could see that the guys had already started to make use of the new delivery because the walls had got higher.


Looking into the kitchen/living room area. Supply of ‘blocks ready for use.

The bedroom external walls had also grown.


North-west corner of the bedroom. Again, a supply of ‘blocks ready to be laid.

A couple of courses had also been laid on the store room walls ( or will it be an en-suite bedroom ?) read future editions to find out.


Store room or an additional en-suite bedroom?

They had also started to lay the ‘blocks for the top of the stairs.


Work was also going on to prepare the extended golf cart ramp for the concrete pour.


Two guys tamping the sand to get the job done faster.

As the external walls get higher for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize it is starting to take shape as our home ( probably getting overly excited because I know there is still a long way to go).


Northern external wall.


Western external wall.

No ‘blocks have been laid for the southern external wall pending our decision on a different location for our store room and the addition of an en-suite bedroom where the store room is currently planned to be.

We have received a cost proposal from Daniel Camal,our building contractor, but await a detailed cost breakdown so that we can make a decision. Rose and I are confident though that we can work it out!

The headline is based on the song by The Beatles ( released as a double A-sided single with ‘Day Tripper’ in December 1965). The song reached number one in the UK chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.

‘The Only Way Is Up’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

First of all I want to say a big thank you to the Mystery Blogger for filling in for me yesterday because I spent most of Tuesday at the dentist in Belize City. Hopefully the Mystery Blogger will fill in again over the next two weeks when I have to visit the dentist for follow-up appointments.

Rose and I spent a good part of the morning poring over the plans for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize to see how we could make best use of the ‘spare’ space in the south-west corner of the Ground Floor for another en-suite bedroom. This included researching bed sizes and culminated in Rose sketching out how we would like to use the space ( she is much better at this than me and is spatial which comes in handy for this type of thing).

We finished around lunchtime, had a bite to eat and then drove to the site to see what progress had been made, recheck our planning thoughts for the additional en-suite and meet Daniel Camal, our building contractor, to find out if our plan could be accommodated.

When we got there we could see straight away that the guys had been busy laying the concrete blocks.


West wall of the living/kitchen area of the Ground Floor apartment.

They were filling the blocks with concrete.


Anhill on the wheelbarrow, Nicholas troweling the concrete into the bucket and Martin waiting to make the pour.


Martin pouring the concrete into the cavities of the blocks.


The finished article.

Daniel Camal then arrived and in between the rainstorms ( when they came we sheltered along with some of the guys in the bodega) we discussed our plans with him. Daniel explained that he could ‘go’ with our plan but to do so would mean having pipes on the exterior of the house, something that he knows we have been intent on avoiding. We were disappointingly pondering on this when he suggested an alternative approach that we make use of the store room space for the additional en-suite bedroom. Such an approach would avoid external pipes and would provide a larger space. We saw the merit in his suggestion and he will now work out the costing although we are pleased with the rough estimate he gave us when I pressed him for one.


Store room or en-suite bedroom?

If we adopt this suggestion the two bathrooms will ‘back on’ to each other enabling the additional bathroom to link into the existing pipes to the septic tank and water pipes. It will also mean converting the store space in the originally planned bedroom into a corridor to enable access/egress to the living/kitchen area and the front door of the apartment.


Will this space be converted to a corridor ?

If the price is right and we go with this alternative approach the bathroom would be around 50 square feet ( not huge but acceptable) and the bedroom would be around 135 square feet. We will decide tomorrow when we get the cost proposal from Daniel Camal

If we do take this approach the bathroom and bedroom included in our original design will be unaffected ( it is just the store room space that changes purpose).


Original bathroom.


Original bedroom looking out to the lagoon.

Oh, I should have mentioned that if we adopt this approach then the space that we considered using for the additional en-suite ( south-west corner of the Ground Floor) will become the store room . It would , at around 140 square feet), be smaller than the store room space in the plans now but still big enough for our needs. And, with double doors, could provide space for the golf cart if we want to lock it away if we want to. This alternative could be a ‘win,win’.

The headline is based on the song by Yazz and the Plastic Population which was released in July 1988. It reached number 1 in the UK but only reached number 96 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It did, however, reach number 2 in the US Billboard dance chart.

Pimp My Ride in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Mystery Blogger here.

I drove Mr. John to the water taxi to catch the 7:00 am boat, whilst driving we saw two backpackers and asked if they wanted a lift, yes they said. They had stayed at Pedros and thoroughly enjoyed their stay on the island. Mr. John is going to Belize City and back to the dentist. I dropped him off at the water taxi, then drove home. On the way there I stopped for two more backpackers, who were on their way to Victoria House to stay the last night of their vacation. Then home for me and a cup of coffee.

Today I am making a chicken curry. When I cooked curry in the UK I never used coconut milk but here it is part of the norm, and very tasty.

Curry ingredients

Chicken, red curry paste, cumin, curry powder, coconut milk, termeric, fresh ginger and chilli.





I saw this on the Island and want one I really really do. Either pink or french navy in colour.



How fantastic would I look behind the wheel. OK moving on. Back to the build.

As Mr. John is on the mainland I will be driving up North to take pictures of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Today they are putting up the walls of the ground floor apartment and storage room ‘wey hey’. I picked up Mr. John from the Caye Caulker Water Taxi boat and drove straight upto our land to see the progress from this morning, quite a bit I say.




We went to Lola’s (bar) for a New Year’s Eve party, after we celebrated the New Year we went on the beach to watch a firework display which I have to say was fantastic. In past years we had spent the New Year in the Ferry House on the Isle of Dogs, after welcoming in the New Year we would go outside and watch the firework display in Greenwich, so some traditions always stay.

To all my family and friends in blighty have a great New Year.

‘Long Way to Go’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize

After a really enjoyable evening at Lola’s to ‘see in’ the New Year and watching from the beach the really good firework display put on by the San Pedro Town Council I slept in today. Didn’t get up until 7 am!

Felt slightly the worse for wear but felt exercised. Knew that I had given my right arm and throat a good workout. The legs got some work too with frequent visits to the Restroom being required!

In all seriousness it was a really enjoyable way to say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013. The first time we have ever been away from England for New Year. We have, however, maintained a longstanding tradition of never being away from home – because that is what Ambergris Caye is for us – on New Year’s Eve.

Rose got up some time after me and we had breakfast and then got to talking about the expansion of our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize to include another en-suite bedroom on the Ground Floor. We studied the architect’s plans to try to determine how we would lay out the two rooms in the space available but found it difficult to do this so decided that we would drive to the site for inspiration. Before going though we measured the dimensions of the bed in our rented accommodation.

After allowing 10 inches for the width of the concrete blocks and a generous 2 inches for the cement/plaster/sand mix finish we have a space available for the en-suite of 19 feet 2 inches long ( running east to west) and 7 feet 3 inches wide ( north to south). Tight but doable if the price is right.

With no work on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today I thought that the regular readers of this Belize blog might find it interesting to know how the build is faring compared to the schedule. Phase 1, which was the first four weeks, required the foundation to the Ground Floor slab to be completed. This was achieved.

We are currently in week 5 of the 6 week duration of Phase 2 and this requires the Ground Floor walls, columns and beams to be completed along with the stairway from the ground to the Ground Floor. Barring unforeseen problems this should be achieved.

There is no connection to the subject matter of today’s edition with the photo below . I have included it just because I find it cute. I took it whilst sitting on the beach earlier today.


In da shades!

Today’s headline is based upon the second solo album by Stevie Nicks’ ( she of Fleetwood Mac fame) ‘The Other Side of the Mirror’ album which was released in May 1989.

Unable to promise that ‘normal service’ will resume in Thursday’s edition because I am off to see the dentist in Belize City and the edition will be produced by the Mystery Blogger. Cannot wait to read it myself.